Round 1 of the search for Edmonton’s best perogies was a really interesting study for me. Certainly I’ve found since sharing the results of round 1, that people are quite passionate about their perogies, and that they are keen to discuss that passion. That’s a fantastic thing, and I hope you all continue to share your thoughts in the comment section or on my Facebook page. If you haven’t chimed in yet, I think it’s worth scrolling through the comments of the first post here and having a look at what others are saying. There’s a lot of good stuff there.
One thing that I find interesting in discussing perogies with the judges we’ve had so far, is that there hasn’t been a consensus on what the most important factor in a good perogy is. It’s been split about 50-50, with one side saying a tasty filling trumps everything else, and some saying an outstanding dough is key. I’d love to hear what you all think on that one, so go ahead and leave your thoughts here or on the Facebook post and we’ll see what the larger sample group thinks.
For the record, I’m in the camp that thinks a great, tender dough is paramount.
Well, I think you can overcome an under seasoned filling because most of us are topping our perogies with a whole bunch of butter and bacon, so an under seasoned filling would be less noticeable. But what do you do to mask a gummy, or tough dough?
Nothing. You just can’t hide that.
Round 2 has another 4 contenders being tasted blindly, by a panel of judges. The judges for round 2 were Robyn and I of course, plus:
- Blair Lebsack- Chef and co-owner of Rge Rd. Blair makes a pretty fantastic perogy appetizer at the restaurant, so was a great fit as one of our judges this round.
- Gurvinder Bhatia- Owner of one of Canada’s finest wine stores, Vinomania, and an Internationally recognized wine judge. Basically, Gurvinder tastes for a living.
- Cynthia Strawson– Former president of Slow Food Edmonton and a staunch advocate for local food.
- Brad Smoliak- Chef/Owner at Kitchen by Brad and proud Ukrainian.
Round 2’s contenders included:
- Baba’s Own– These are perogies made at the St. Michael’s Long Term Care Centre, and funds from these perogies are used to supply services and equipment for the seniors at the centre. They’re available at numerous places in Edmonton. Cost- $9.99 for 24
- Wendy’s Gourmet Perogies– This little shop just north of Whitemud drive on 99 st. has been around for quite a few years now, and specializes in gourmet flavours. Cost- $12 for 12.
- St. John’s Cultural Centre– As part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, St. John’s holds regular perogy dinner’s and sells frozen perogies 5 days a week from the office. Cost- $20 for 60
- Widynowski’s Sausage House– Just up the road from the Mundare Sausage House, sits Widynowski’s. Sure they sell a lot of sausage here, but there’s also handmade Ukrainian foods for sale from their freezer. Cost- $8.50 for 24.
The judges found the dough for this first perogy very slightly gummy, but good. Numerous judges noted the excellent dough to filling ratio, and that the filling had a good saltiness. The filling wasn’t overly cheesy, but the texture was nice and smooth.
The first thing that hits you about sample B is it’s massive size. It was easily double the size of any of the other samples, which one judge noted as “not baba approved”. The dough itself got a good grade from all the judges, but the filling had downfalls noted by judges across the board. The filling, while having good, albeit, a bit oniony flavour, was very dry and flaked apart. One judge described the filling as “pasty, like an overcooked yolk”.
The judges found the dough on sample C the best of the bunch. That was unanimous, and one judge described the dough as plump and tender. The filling to dough ratio was good, and judges noticed the slightly different shapes on each perogy, suggesting they were handmade. On the whole, the judges found the filling ok, but questioned whether it was real cheddar or not. (For the record, I contacted the maker after the testing and they assured me that they use only real potatoes and real cheese in their perogies)
The filling on sample D had some noticeable sweetness that set it apart from the other samples. Some judges didn’t mind the sweetness, while others didn’t care for it. Visually, these perogies were appealing, and had a nice size and shape. The downfall for sample D was the overly tough dough, which one judge commented was like a thick pasta. The thumbs down on the dough was unanimous.
After some thoughtful discussion, and a beer or 2, we came to a consensus on our rankings.
- Sample A, from Widynowski’s Sausage House. The 118 avenue sausage maker came out on top with five 1st place votes, and one 2nd place vote.
- Sample C, from St. John’s. The baba’s at St. John’s got one 1st place vote, and four 2nd place votes.
- Sample B, from Wendy’s Gourmet Perogies.
- Sample D, from Baba’s Own
Now, we had to eat all our perogies sans bacon, which of course made me very sad. If it wasn’t for this whole “testing integrity” blah blah blah, I’d certainly fry up a pound of bacon to top these bad boys with but luckily you don’t have that problem.
A lot of you probably know this already if you’ve read baconhound for a while, but Irvings Farm Fresh makes my absolute favourite bacon. You can find Irvings bacon at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market and the Italian Centre Shops in Edmonton, among other spots, They have also very generously sponsored this series of perogy posts, so if you’re a fan of bacon and perogies, click their logo below to check out all the locations you can find that amazing bacon as well as all their other delicious pork products.
Oh, and I should mention that since I got enough good suggestions from you for more perogies to try, there will indeed be a round 3 added before we conduct the finals. Look for that next Wednesday.
Baconhound is an Edmonton food blog, focusing on the best restaunts and dishes in Edmonton and beyond. Phil Wilson is also host of the Edmonton, Alberta based food podcast, Off Menu.